Pass/fail grades issued during COVID-19 pandemic
April 3, 2020
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, universities are taking different approaches to setting final grades for courses completed in the Winter 2020 term. The WCVM admissions committee has met to review the best options to ensure fairness across the WCVM applicant pool.
The four-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) is offered by the University of Saskatchewan's Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. See location.
Established in 1963, the WCVM is the premier centre of veterinary education, research and clinical expertise. It serves as the regional veterinary college for Canada’s western provinces and the northern territories. As one of Canada’s five veterinary colleges, the WCVM is a key member of Canada’s veterinary, public health and food safety networks.
The WCVM will admit five to 25 U.S./international students for fall 2021 entry. Applicants must apply online through the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS), which is operated by the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). The application deadline is September 15, 2020.
Veterinary medicine focuses on animal health and the study of diseases that affect all animal species. Veterinarians receive comprehensive training in all basic and clinical sciences with relation to a variety of species, including food‑producing animals, horses, companion animals, exotic pets and wildlife.
- Four-year degree. This doesn't include the two years of university-level studies that are required before admission to this program.
- Full-time program
- Academic year runs from mid-August to end of April
What you will learn
This program prepares you to meet the needs of animal health care in Western Canada and beyond. Our curriculum allows you to pursue personal interest areas including small, large or exotic animal care, surgery, medical imaging, anesthesiology, pathology, wildlife medicine, or animal-human health-related issues — just to name a few.
The veterinary curriculum is very diverse. You will learn about how the healthy body works, how it is disrupted and how to diagnose and treat various ailments. You will also learn about how animals are managed and how to keep them healthy.
You will gain hands-on experience with animals through formal laboratory exercises, elective courses and fourth-year rotations. You will also receive instruction in leadership, communication and practice management to prepare you for your future professional careers.
First two years
You will focus on basic and applied science core courses. You will learn about the functions of a healthy body and how they can be disrupted. Our new curriculum has an increased focus on clinical skills and ensuring that students have met vital competencies required to be a practising veterinarian.
You will gain more in‑depth, focused learning including hands-on experience in particular areas of interest through a range of core/elective courses.
You will gain clinical experience during the program's final year, completing a series of two- or four-week clinical rotations. Students can also arrange for externships at specialty practices, zoos and aquariums in other provinces or countries.
The Course and Program Catalogue has the complete and official listing of required classes and their descriptions for this program.
Why study here
Veterinary Medical Centre (VMC)
The college's Veterinary Medical Centre is Western Canada's centre for primary and specialized clinical services, as well as for veterinary teaching and animal health research.
The WCVM Veterinary Medical Centre's diverse caseload ensures that veterinary students are exposed to a range of animal species and health issues during their senior years.
Undergraduate research program
One of the finest introductory research initiatives in North America, first- and second-year students have the opportunity to work alongside experienced researchers at the college, learning more about the world of research and gaining valuable, hands-on experience.
Veterinarians make ideal leaders of One Health, a global initiative for improving animal, human and environmental health through collaboration among all of the health sciences. That is especially true at uSask — the only Canadian university with a full complement of health science colleges and schools on one campus.
Veterinarians play a critical role in agriculture and production animal health, and the WCVM is well placed to educate new veterinarians in food animal medicine. USask's College of Agriculture and Bioresources and the WCVM also collaborate on many food animal research studies that contribute to the students' training.
Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence (LFCE)
The LFCE includes a 1,500-head beef cattle feedlot, a forage cow-calf facility, a livestock research unit, facilities for specialized livestock, and a production cow herd with over 400 breeding animals.
Mixed animal practitioners treat large and small animals while large animal practitioners focus on agricultural livestock. Small animal veterinarians provide health care for dogs, cats and exotic pets. Some private practitioners specialize in treating individual species such as dairy and beef cattle, swine, horses or companion animals.
Clinicians with advanced training provide specialized services in many clinical disciplines including surgery, internal medicine, medical imaging, anesthesiology, ophthalmology, veterinary pathology, dentistry, wildlife medicine and oncology.
Provincial and federal veterinarians help to develop public policy and legislation related to animal and animal human health. They regulate the import and export of livestock and food products. They are responsible for the control of infectious diseases among livestock and wildlife from a local to global level. They provide diagnostic services and ensure the health and safety of commercial meat products.
Academia and research
Veterinarians are involved in teaching and studying animal health at veterinary colleges, universities and research institutions. Veterinarians also contribute to advances in human medicine and collaborate with researchers around the world.
Veterinarians take part in the research and commercial development of new feed products, drugs and technologies with animal health companies.
The WCVM holds the status of full accreditation with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Education, allowing the WCVM to operate as a qualified centre for veterinary education and research.
WCVM graduates are eligible to practise in all provinces of Canada, in all American states and in most other countries around the world.
WCVM students write the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) in the final year of the DVM program. The NAVLE is a comprehensive test that allows veterinarians to practise throughout North America. It is also accepted as a veterinary qualification in most other countries.
- WCVM student pass rate (2019-20): The pass rate for recent WCVM graduates on the NAVLE was 97 per cent. The current pass rate required by the AVMA Council on Education standard for outcomes assessment is 80 per cent.
The WCVM's Veterinary Medical Centre is also an accredited member of the American Animal Hospitals Association (AAHA).
The college is recognized by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). This means WCVM graduates are eligible for membership in the RCVS, allowing them to practise in the United Kingdom and any country recognizing RCVS membership.
For further information about the WCVM’s accreditation, visit the WCVM website.
U.S. and International Students
Tuition and fees per year
|Canadian $||*Approx. U.S. $|
Tuition estimates reflect a typical amount you could expect to pay per year (2020-21 Canadian dollar rates).
Fees are used to fund specific student benefits, including health, vision and dental coverage, a bus pass, recreational programs and fitness centre access.
*Converted from Canadian to American dollars using an exchange rate of 1.32.
Additional estimates of fees and expenses
|Additional fees or expenses||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Year 4|
|Board examinations (NAVLE)||n/a||n/a||n/a||$1,000|
|Printing and paper||$300||$300||$300||$300|
|Instruments and special clothing||$300||$300||$300||$300|
|Travel expenses (optional)||$1,800||$1,800||$1,800||$3,000|
|Total (Canadian dollars)||$5,075||$4,425||$4,155||$5,655|
|Total (American dollars)*||$3,850||$3,350||$3,150||$4,300|
Prices subject to change and will vary from student to student and year to year.
* Based on an exchange rate of 1.32.
The following admission information provides a cursory review. Please read the entire International Applicant Manual before applying for admission to the program. Note: the International Applicant Manual contains the WCVM's official admission policies for fall 2021 entry.
1. Eligibility for international applicant pool
Citizens or permanent residents of any country other than Canada can apply to the U.S./international applicant pool. Canadians with dual citizenship are eligible to apply to the international applicant pool, but if they are accepted, they will be required to pay international student tuition and fees for the duration of their program.
Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada who do not meet the western Canadian residency requirements and are not dual citizens are ineligible to apply to the WCVM. Please contact the Canadian veterinary college that serves your region.
Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada who meet the western Canadian residency requirements in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba or the territories can find more information at the WCVM admissions page for Canadian applicants.
2. Required pre-veterinary courses
Applicants require 60 credit units (20 one-term courses) of pre-veterinary courses from an accredited university. One credit represents one lecture hour equivalent per week for one term (or approximately one semester hour of credits). Prerequisite courses must be completed by April 30 of the year for which admission is sought.
|6 credits of Biology (lab required)|
|6 credits of Chemistry (lab required)|
|6 credits of English (at least one course must include literature component)|
|6 credits of Mathematics or Statistics|
|3 credits of Organic Chemistry|
|3 credits of Physics (lab required)|
|3 credits of Biochemistry|
|3 credits of Genetics|
|3 credits of Introductory Microbiology|
|21 credits of elective courses|
|60 TOTAL CREDITS|
At least two full years of university courses are required. Neither the number of years of pre-professional study nor the degree(s) held are factors in selecting students.
- Electives: There are no "preferred" electives. The choice of electives should be based upon the requirements of the program in which the student is enrolled or the student's general interests. Students are encouraged to select electives that will liberalize or broaden their perspectives.
- Pre-veterinary courses must be taken at an accredited post-secondary institution (as recognized by the University of Saskatchewan).
- Applicants from outside of North America will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine acceptability of both the institution and the individual courses. A foreign transcript evaluation report will be required with your VMCAS application.
- Courses taken as part of vocational programs — such as animal health or veterinary technology programs — are not usually accepted to meet the college’s pre-veterinary course requirements. However, a few courses in some programs may be used if the applicant has completed the vocational program. Each case is considered on its individual merit.
- Distance education (online) courses are accepted. However, at least half (30 credits or 10 one-term courses) of prerequisites must be completed in person.
3. English language proficiency
The language of instruction and examination at the University of Saskatchewan is English. A high-level understanding and functionality in English is essential for successful completion of the DVM program and for safe client care in the veterinary profession.
Applicants who have not completed a minimum of two years of full-time study in a degree program from an accredited post-secondary institution (as recognized by the University of Saskatchewan) where English is the official language of instruction and examination must present evidence of meeting the minimum scores in one of the English Proficiency Examinations listed below.
|Overall: 7.0||Overall: 94||Overall: n/a||Overall: 70||Overall: 80%|
|Reading: 6.5||Reading: 22||Reading: 4.5||Reading: 60||Speaking: 80%|
|Listening: 6.5||Listening: 22||Listening: 4.5||Listening: 60||Writing: 80%|
|Speaking: 7.0||Speaking: 25||Speaking: 5.0||Speaking: 70|
|Writing: 7.0||Writing: 25||Writing: 5.0||Writing: 70|
- Test scores must be available at the time of application.
- All scores must be from one exam date.
- Tests are valid for 24 months after the testing date and must be valid at the beginning of the student's first term of registration in the DVM program.
- If a student defers admission to a future term, the test score must be valid at the time of the new start date or a new test must be completed successfully.
- The University of Saskatchewan's institution code for the TOEFL test is 0980.
4. Academic requirement
- A minimum, overall average of 75 per cent (3.2 GPA) is required to be eligible to apply, and this average must be maintained for any course work completed during the year of application.
All grades are converted to a common scale for comparative purposes.
5. Animal and veterinary experience
Applicants are required to have both experience and good knowledge of animals and the veterinary profession to be successful in gaining admission. The diversity, quality, depth and breadth of animal and veterinary experiences are assessed in the interview.
The importance of animal and veterinary experience is to ensure applicants “know what they are getting into” and are making an informed career choice.
Experiences should be obtained under the supervision of a veterinarian in placements such as clinical practice, research laboratories, animal shelters, animal rehabilitation facilities, public health settings or another related industry where a veterinarian is employed. Veterinary experience provides applicants insight into the day-to-day life as a veterinarian and an understanding of the veterinary profession. The purpose of the experience is not to learn a basic core of veterinary or animal handling skills. For many, obtaining veterinary experience means spending quality time with a veterinarian — either as a volunteer or as a paid employee.
Significant animal experience is required because it's assumed that most veterinarians will be working with animals during their career. Experiences working with animals allows applicants to determine how well they enjoy working with animals. These experiences also help to give an indication of their aptitude and compassion. "Significant animal experience" goes beyond pet ownership. For example, it could include responsibility for the care and husbandry of livestock or a food animal unit, breeding/showing animals, experience at rehabilitation facilities or humane societies/shelters, working in a pet store, participating in equestrian activities, or any other animal-related hobby or experience where a veterinarian is not always present.
Applicants' experiences are often consistent with their career goals. However, it's important to understand the diversity of the veterinary profession since both the DVM curriculum and the veterinary licensing examination require proficiency in a broad range of areas for successful completion. For this reason, it is strongly advised that applicants gain experience working with a variety of species such as cows, horses, pigs, chickens, fish, exotics, wildlife, dogs and cats.
The WCVM admissions committee recognizes that applicants' career goals in the veterinary profession may change over the course of their education. During the admissions process, there are no "preferred" career choices. Applicants with an interest in one type of practice are not given preferential treatment over those with interests in other areas.
The amount of animal and veterinary experience will vary from one applicant to another because some individuals are more perceptive than others and some experiences might be more useful than others.
Some applicants will be able to obtain these insights after minimal exposure while other applicants may need more time and exposure.
Admission to the WCVM is highly competitive. Completion of the pre-veterinary requirements with the minimum admission average does not guarantee acceptance to the WCVM's Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program.
Selection is based upon assessment of a number of factors including:
- mental aptitude
- academic performance
- experience with animals
- leadership qualities
- social awareness
- deportment, verbal facility and ability to communicate
- an understanding and knowledge of the veterinary profession
Degrees or diplomas held are not factors in the selection process.
The weighting of selection factors to determine the rank order of acceptance is 60 per cent academic and 40 per cent non-academic.
Transcripts and academic performance
Mental aptitude and academic performance are mainly evaluated by academic transcripts.
All university work undertaken is considered when evaluating academic performance. The courseload of the applicant is a consideration.
Applicants are selected for interviews on the basis of an academic score:
- 2/3 overall average (all university courses completed)
- 1/3 best full-year average
The definition of a "full year" is a minimum of 24 credits (eight one-term courses, excluding labs) completed within the regular, September to April academic year.
Applicants who are studying at universities with an irregular academic year (not a September to April academic year), who are enrolled in co-op programs or who are unsure of whether they meet this requirement should contact the WCVM Admissions Office (see contact information below).
Applicants must submit their reference letters through the VMCAS application system. As required by the WCVM, at least one referee must be a veterinarian while another must be an individual with an animal-related or agricultural background.
A. Essential skills and abilities
Before submitting your VMCAS application, please review the essential skills and abilities (see below) required for the study of veterinary medicine.
- Graduates are expected to diagnose and manage health conditions in a wide variety of animal species.
- Graduates must provide compassionate care to animals and be able to communicate clearly with owners, regulatory agencies and others.
- Graduates must also meet licensing requirements and pass licensing examinations.
While a disability should not preclude a student from consideration for admission, disabilities must not prevent the student from:
- communicating with owners of animals and colleagues
- observing patients
- collecting and analyzing clinical data
- performing medical and surgical treatments
- maintaining animal and human safety
- demonstrating appropriate judgment during the veterinary training process
Applicants to the degree program in veterinary medicine should be familiar with the essential skills and abilities required for the study of veterinary medicine.
Essential skills and abilities required for the study of veterinary medicine
Candidates for the DVM degree must demonstrate a number of essential skills and abilities.
1. Observation: The student must be able to participate in learning situations that require observational skills. In particular, students must be able to observe animals and acquire visual, auditory and tactile information from their examinations.
2. Communication: Students must be able to acquire an adequate history from an owner. Students must be able to hear and observe their animal patients in order to effectively collect information and describe the findings.
3. Motor skills: The student must demonstrate sufficient motor function to be able to perform a physical examination on an animal that may include palpation, auscultation, percussion and diagnostic procedures including examination with an ophthalmoscope, otoscope or stethoscope on large and small animals. Students must be reasonably able to execute motor movements to achieve general proficiency with surgical therapy and other related therapies.
4. Intellectual conceptual, integrative and quantitative abilities: The student must demonstrate the cognitive skills and memory necessary to measure, calculate, analyze, integrate and synthesize information. In addition, the student must be able to comprehend dimensional and spatial relationships. There are diagnostic, problem-solving activities commonly encountered during the DVM program that will need to be executed in a timely fashion.
5. Non-technical attributes: Veterinary students must consistently demonstrate non-technical skills, knowledge and aptitudes that allow them to interact with clients, collect histories, apply sound judgment and complete responsibilities in the diagnosis and treatment of animals. Students must be able to develop effective relationships with owners, staff and colleagues.
This policy exists to ensure students entering the DVM program are aware of the requirements necessary for the study of veterinary medicine, and that they have a reasonable opportunity to complete the program and earn a DVM degree.
The Western College of Veterinary Medicine is committed to facilitating the integration of students with disabilities into this college community. Each student with a disability is entitled to reasonable accommodation that will assist him or her to meet the requirements for graduation from the college.
Reasonable accommodation will be made to facilitate each student's progress. Such accommodation, however, can not compromise animal well-being or the safety of the people involved. Therefore, it may not be possible to accommodate all disabilities and allow for successful completion of the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree program.
Contact the University of Saskatchewan's Access and Equity Services office for additional information regarding support.
B. Supplemental application fee
The WCVM requires a $100 CDN supplemental application fee. The WCVM Admissions Office will contact applicants to arrange payment of this fee.
C. Submitting transcripts
Applicants who are enrolled in university courses at the time of application will be required to submit additional transcripts to the WCVM.
Complete the VMCAS application by September 15, 2020.
Once the application and supporting documents have been received by VMCAS and subsequently evaluated by the WCVM, the WCVM Admissions Office will contact eligible applicants who have been selected for interviews.
All interviews will take place on site at the WCVM (University of Saskatchewan campus). The WCVM will make its final selections for admission after all interviews are completed.
Admissions Office, Room 3101
Western College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Saskatchewan
52 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, SK S7N 5B4
Tara Carmichael, International Admissions and Recruitment Specialist
Heather Mandeville, Manager, Admissions and Recruitment
Dr. Chris Clark, Associate Dean (Academic)